The Gathering of the Perfect Storm
UFC 243 was the perfect kind of storm to create a massive star. Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker were facing off in a title unification bout. The fight would be taking place in Australia—which is a neighboring nation to New Zealand. Albeit friendly, Australia and New Zealand have a longstanding sports rivalry. And although Whittaker was born in New Zealand, he currently calls Sydney, Australia home. And while Israel Adesanya was born in Lagos, Nigeria, he grew up in Auckland, New Zealand.
Due to their respective backgrounds, Adesanya put New Zealand on his back for this fight. On the opposing end, Whittaker carried the Australian flag into battle. For these two men to find each other at the top of their weight class, was a gift from the MMA Gods to Oceania mixed martial arts. With a matchup so geographically unique, the battle was meant for Australia. The fight would be more than capable of drawing a healthy stadium crowd.
Legendary UFC Entrance
With a record-breaking crowd of over 57,000 people, the time for the main event had come. The lights cut out, and three men appeared at Adesanya’s tunnel. Dressed in matching camouflage and black outfits, the men began doing a choreographed dance piece. I would describe the moves as a mix of break-dancing and a ceremonial ‘haka’ dance.
About 40 seconds into the routine, the music shifted as if to signify something big was about to happen. Then along came Israel Adesanya. With about as much confidence as I’ve ever seen in a fighter, Adesanya took charge of the group. While dancing in unison with the team, Adesanya symbolically prepared his fists for battle. The three camouflaged men ran back into the tunnel. Suddenly, dressed in all black, Adesanya’s cornermen emerged from the tunnel. With Adesanya at the forefront, the men made their way to the octagon. The time to achieve greatness had come, and Adesanya made sure everybody felt it.
Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker looked more than ready to perform for his people. He stormed the cage and pounded on his chest with a single fist. Whittaker looked about as muscular as he ever has, and the look on his face projected an intensity that screamed ‘Ready to fight.’
The bout began and Whittaker was noticeably aggressive. His strikes appeared to be thrown with bad intentions and his forward movement was unrelenting. Despite this offensive strategy from Whittaker, Adesanya was able to outland his opponent in the first round by a small margin. He was also able to drop Whittaker right at the end of the round. The second stanza saw a lot of the same activity displayed in the first. But when Adesanya knocked Whittaker down in the second round, he had plenty of time to finish him off. And that’s exactly what he did. Israel Adesanya defeated Robert Whittaker via TKO in the 2nd round. In front of nearly 60,000 people, Israel Adesanya became the new UFC middleweight champion.
Words from the New Champion
Never at a loss for words, Adesanya touched on many topics in his post-fight victory speech. He poked at his critics who previously claimed he was too skinny or that he didn’t have knockout power. With his hulking Brazilian rival cage side, Adesanya went on to call out Paulo Costa. He insulted Costa’s physique and dismissed him as being a credible threat.
With his family by his side, a belt on his shoulder, and many friendly fans in attendance, Adesanya left the cage in great spirits. Expect to see Israel Adesanya on many media platforms in the coming weeks. Because with a champion as marketable as he is, a victory tour is likely the final piece to this star-making puzzle.